We came across some interesting tweets from music journalist Atze de Vrieze Today on Flying Lotus’ influence on Radiohead or vice versa. We asked Atze to guest blog his thoughts on The King Of Limbs and Flying Lotus.
“Im trippin out right now.. this radiohead shit is cold! gawd. i need to slap someone in the face .. someone come over.” Flying Lotus kind of lost his mind on Twitter yesterday, and he knew it. “Sorry i gotta tweet thru this radiohead joint”, he apologized. “Its kinda a world event for me.”
Understandable, because the British band quite literally honor the Los Angeles beat producer on their new album The King Of Limbs. Some fans even mistakenly called the new single Flying Lotus instead of Lotus Flower, a Freudian slip the band itself could have invented. The song starts with a minute of electronic sounding rhythms, with a deep, slowly lapsing bass, guitar glitches and distorted handclaps. Only after that minute Thom Yorke starts singing, with his falsetto, with more soul than he usually has.
Last year Flying Lotus had breakthrough with his third album Cosmogramma. He perfected the sound he developed on his first two records, an amalgam of hip hop, bass music and experimental jazz (his great-aunt was Alice Coltrane). It’s a cosmic electronic opera. A layered, intense and totally unique album, and no doubt a big influence for producers in the coming years. Not in the least for Radiohead.
If Lotus Flower doesn’t convince you, just put on Bloom, The King Of Limbs’ opening track. It has a looped piano, jazz drums that sound like samples and that seem to ignore the direction the piano pointed out. A signature Flylo technique. After three minutes, an orchestra is coming up, slowly but overwhelming. Horns and strings it seems, but so distorted they get an extraterrestrial feel. It’s a clear nod to Cosmogramma’s overture. The producer must have felt as if the track was produced just for him. “Fuck.. I was sittin outside in the chair and the speakers said BLOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMM #thekingoflimbs pow powpow pow.”
The cross-pollination is easy to substantiate. Their paths crossed continuously in recent years. Flying Lotus remixed Radiohead song Reckoner and Thom Yorke lent his voice to Flylo’s … And The World Laughs With You. Last month, the Radiohead frontman presented an award to the producer at the World Wide Awards, hosted by BBC DJ Gilles Peterson. Backstage after the show he interviewed him. Well, more or less. It’s a safe bet to say new Radiohead track Feral will end up in Flylo’s live set.
But wait, isn’t it the other way around? Aren’t Radiohead the mentors here, Flylo the protege? Contrary rhythms and electronic experiments, isn’t that what Radiohead have been about since the turn of the century? If there’s one record The King Of Limbs builds upon, it’s Thom Yorke’s solo album The Eraser. Flylo’s LA buddy The Gaslamp Killer plays songs from that album in his dj-sets all the time, and in his own work, the influence is undeniable as well.
“For me, OK Computer is not the classic, Kid A is”, Flying Lotus said in and interview I did with him last year, one month before Cosmogramma was released. In his live set that night, he incorporated Idioteque, a classic from that period. “And Amnesiac is my personal favorite. Rhythmic as well as melodic. Interesting rhythmic patterns always attract my attention.”
There are still people who believe Radiohead lost it after OK Computer and everything they release after that was navel-gazing. That Radiohead were trapped in their own world, that the A&R manager of the good old record company was sorely missed. All nonsense. Radiohead have turned away from the mainstream and leave big stadium anthems to Muse and Kings Of Leon, but they have never been blind to what’s happening in the frontline of today’s music. This is how Flying Lotus puts it: “Studentteacherteacherstudent.”
Atze de Vrieze is a music journalist for 3VOOR12, the prime online and radio platform of Dutch public broadcasting company VPRO. The King Of Limbs is the album of the week on their website. You can find him on Twitter.